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Convery a thorn in Tyrone's side as Derry storm to Shield success

Derry 1-17 Tyrone 1-12

By Ryan O'Farrell

Derry had to pull out all the stops to ensure their path back to next season's Ulster senior championship after a 1-17 to 1-12 win over Mattie Lennon's Tyrone yesterday in Carrickmore.

It was a shoot-out between Ruairi Convery and Damien Casey, each notching a dozen points but Derry's greater scoring threat elsewhere proved the difference in the end.

Midway through the second-half Gerard Bradley's goal was the key score. Darragh Cartin won possession from Sean Cassidy's clearance and he opened up the Tyrone defence, giving to Ciaran Steele who fed Bradley for a cracking low finish to the net, opening up a 1-10 to 0-10 lead after 44 minutes.

Tyrone battled back and Sean Óg Grogan and Justin Kelly threatened an upset in the home straight. The duo turned over the Derry defence as they cleared their lines with Kelly poking to the net, reducing the gap to three points with five minutes left.

Derry rallied and could still afford to miss a penalty. A foul on Cuala's Cian Waldron gave Convery the chance to cap off his performance, but 'keeper McElhatton saved his shot. It didn't matter -Derry were home and dry.

After their relegation last season, Derry's period of transition sees them back in the championship proper, and silverware to build on going into the Nicky Rackard Cup. Derry were out of the blocks quickly and with the aid of the wind Ruairi Convery had the ball over the bar in the first attack.

Meehaul McGrath added a second but Tyrone hit back with a Justin Kelly point. Kelly was a late inclusion ahead of Dermot Begley at midfield.

With Convery the key component Derry went into a 0-8 to 0-5 lead by the 27th minute. Tyrone upped their performance and shut Derry out for the next 12 minutes before Gerald Bradley put Collie McGurk's side 0-9 to 0-6 ahead by the break.

The Derry onslaught didn't materialise as Tyrone came out strongly after half-time with points from Conor Grogan and Casey (2)

When Ciaran Steele passed to Bradley for the Derry goal it looked like the visitors would pull clear. Three frees from talisman Convery pushed Derry 1-13 to 0-10 ahead. With Casey accurate at the other end Tyrone were still chipping away at the lead.

When Justin Kelly slotted to the Derry net, there was belief creeping into Tyrone, but back came that man Convery with two frees to settle his side.

Derry were presented with the Ulster shield after the game, but already the focus has changed. With a stronger panel available, including 14 of Slaughtneil Ulster winning squad, Derry will need to build on their performances over the winter to challenge Antrim.

Tyrone must bounce back for a clash with Monaghan in next weekend's Nicky Rackard Cup. For Derry it is a trip to Louth, with the chance of a final in Croke Park and promotion back to the Christy Ring Cup a possibility.

Derry: T McCloskey; S Cassidy, McCartney, R McCloskey; McGuigan, Cassidy, Cleary (0-1); McGilligan, McAllister; Bradley (1-2), McGrath (0-1), Convery (0-12, 10f, 1 SL cut), Waldron, Steele (0-1), O'Dwyer. Subs: McCloskey for O'Dwyer (36), Cartin for Ruairi McCartney (43), McCormick for Steele (55), Quigley for Bradley (75), O'Kane for McCloskey (75).

Tyrone: C McElhatton; P McHugh, B Begley, Muldoon; Devlin, Donnelly, Morgan; Kelly, Kelly (1-1); Grogan (0-1), O'Kelly, Cross; Mulgrew, Casey (0-12, 11f), McGurk. Subs: Marshall for Mulgrew (31), S Groogan for Morgan (44), Devlin for Muldoon (54).

Referee: J Connors (Donegal).

Belfast Telegraph

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